In my last post I wrote of evidence that children’s creativity has declined over the past two or three decades, a period during which children’s lives, both in and out of school, have become increasingly controlled and regulated by adult authorities. Here, now, is some further evidence that freedom—including freedom from unasked-for evaluation—is an essential element to the blooming of creativity. —
“The results of these experiments were quite consistent. In experiment after experiment, the participants who made the most creative products were those who did not know that their products would be evaluated. They were the ones just playing, not concerned about judgments or rewards.
"In physically demanding tasks, like lifting heavy weights, and in tedious tasks, like counting beans, we do better when we are being evaluated than when we are not. But in tasks that require creativity, or new insights, or new learning, we do better when we are not being evaluated—when we are just playing, not stressed, not afraid of failure."
“I used to give in. I used to have a 4.0 GPA. I used to do ALL of my homework. I used to copy ALL of the PowerPoint notes. I used to turn in ALL my work on time. I used to feel on the top of the world when I got an A on exam or a paper. Then it hit me. Then I asked one simple question, “why?” …”—
… I started to wonder what this was supposed to do to me. I had a 4.0 GPA, but I have never been, nor will ever be, a perfect student. I don’t even consider myself smart for having those high grades because it was so simple to me—just do all the work and “Wow! You’re a genius! You memorized a word on a paper and saw the same word on another paper, and WOW! You somehow managed to make this Einstein level connection to get an A on your tests! WOW! You sure are one heck of a scholar Mr. Isaac! I mean just OH MY GOSH. You can get into any university you want for this amazing feat! I can’t believe you can actually memorize words like that! Kudos to you, Good Student!” This realization that, to a school’s eyes, I was someone more intelligent than another individual who had lower grades upset me. I was no more deserving a teen for giving in. I was no more entitled to be more successful of a person than someone who didn’t care to memorize words.
A comprehensive systems of badges, trophies, points, XP, achievements. This uncovers nuance and is capable of far more resolution and precision than a letter.
2. Live Feedback
Here, students are given verbal and written feedback immediately–as work is being completed. Live scoring without the scoring and iteration. No letters or numbers, just feedback.
In this process, work is graded as it traditionally has been, then, through revision and iteration, is gradually improved and curated. Eventually “lesser” performance (as determined by students, peers, families, and teachers) is replaced by better work, but without the grades. Grades jump-start the revision process, and that’s it.
4. Always-on Proving Grounds (Continuous Climate of Assessment)
In this model, assessment never stops–the result of one assessment is another. Not tests, but demonstrations. It doesn’t stop, so rather than halting the process to assign a letter, the process continues on.
“Our own experience instructs us that the secret of education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he should know, what he shall do.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson (via adventuresineducating)
But I don’t feel great, or empowered, or validated. The musical cue that plays when Michelle Pfeiffer finally reaches her students didn’t play. My scene didn’t look anything like the photo op of Jaime Escalante and his inner city math students.
Instead, I just felt overwhelmed and powerless. Overwhelmed at the idea that I have this much control over their lives and powerless because I also have no control over their lives. I was ready to teach them about Shakespeare and Keats but I don’t think I’m ready to be so responsible for their lives. Im still trying to figure out my life. How can I possibly help them figure out theirs?
Even though I teach pre-K, I had a bunch of really, really similar experiences to this last year.
it’s just amazing how school is advertised as a place where you grow and learn and better yourself and your future but really it’s just a place that makes you feel like ***t and lowers your self esteem and then puts you into the world with a piece of paper and severe anxiety
At the time we are reposting this, it has over 39,000 notes. Just sayin’
In the last few days the concept of student voice and teacher voice have been on my mind. This has been evident in many different ways. I’ve decided to do my inquiry project on this idea of hierarchy within the elementary classroom. I want to explore the concept of the teacher having the only say in what happens within the classroom. Why are the students not being involved more?
This also brings into question the idea of community within the classroom. I want to create a community where all students feel they can take charge of their growth and the growth of their classmates. I want them to be excited. I want them to understand why we are learning something, how it applies to their life.
I have also been thinking a lot about the unfair expectations we place on students. Are they congruent with the expectations we place on our own selves? Is it reasonable to have a classroom that is silent? Is it good? Is it even natural? If these are things that will never be seen outside of the K-12 system, then why even bother implementing them?
As educators, we need to constantly be assessing ourselves. We need to ask ourselves what the purpose is behind the things we teach. We need to ensure that our students will be able to relate the lessons they learn in the classroom to the world outside of school. There needs to be better integration between all areas of the curriculum. Life isn’t divided into neat tidy boxes of science, math, history, geography, reading, writing, french, and music. All of these things are constantly happening and need to be taught together.
I’ve said this before, but it is ringing true ever more as each day passes: Every good teacher must be anti-establishment to some degree. Otherwise, their students will learn nothing. And then everyone fails. As an individual. As a community. As a society. As a nation.
I know there’s more to this thought, and explanation of it may be necessary. But I’ll sit on in awhile as I write about how appalled I am at El Paso’s recent abhorrent conduct affecting the lives of hundreds of high school students.